For my purposes, the automobile is simply something required to get me from point A to point B when absolutely necessary. Long ago I gave up any residual teenage love of driving, stashed away when I was forced to own a car with an actual hard top, and handed over the keys to the CTA, quite happy to move about the city on the train or the bus, truly enjoying the freedom of being car free. The joy was not mine alone, Jack, along with our insurance agent, celebrated as it seemed the less I drove, the less likely I was to hit things along the way.
Mary and Kate put me back in the car, at least part time. When forced to drive, I believe that the car should do what I say. It need not flash its lights and wink when it sees me coming, I see no reason for it to honk or beep at me, and please God don't ask it to give me directions. Some of these things now talk? No, that won't do, I'm in charge, and if I have to stop to listen to where my car thinks I should be I'm certain to run right into a tree. There seems to be mutual feelings of distaste as the car and I now are engaged in some sort of bizarre turf war as to who is actually in command of this thing.
Twice recently it has exploded into every kind of honk and beep imaginable upon my opening of the driver door, from the inside, each time in the relatively small, and indoor garage, at Trader Joe's. With the girls laughing, and Kate grabbing furiously at her ears, I search frantically for the panic button, and after two or three firm jabs it shuts up. And then I open my door and the whole spectacle begins again. The first time it happened I went through this routine three times before waving the white flag and resigning myself to a life trapped inside the beast. Thinking I should call the husband and let him know that the children and I would be living out the rest of our days from inside the car, I found that my phone did not work in the garage. Of course having already released a child from the confines of her seat belt and unable to open my door without great fanfare, I was forced to climb into the backseat and reattach her car seat straps. From the street outside I made the call, his assistant answered, he was in a meeting. A message, yes, please tell him that the car won, thank you.
It happened again today, but defeat would not come so easily this time. Open door, mad honking and beeping from the car. Red button, repeatedly, and it's quiet. Open door, repeat, three times, just for good measure. While Kate calmly raises her hands to her ears, Mary erupts into hysterical laughter, hardly able to contain herself. We sit in the small garage, averting eye contact with other shoppers, and wait, for what I have no idea. Eventually I back down, accepting that yes, yet again, the car wins. Without so much as a gallon of milk I start the car and being to back out, realizing that I look like a complete idiot to anyone who might be so bored on a Wednesday afternoon as to be sitting in a parking garage watching an over 40 mother of two relinquish control of the family grocery shopping to her car.
And then from deep within, finding strength of character I did not know I had, I stopped. No, not this time, we'll get our milk ladies, and maybe some eggs if the mood strikes us, we're back, let's open that door, we're strong together.
Not one beep, not so much as a squeak as I boldly opened the door. Game over car, your turn to wave the flag, today I win.